COMPILED BY Jo Buitenbach PHOTOS Supplied
Yakira Kellman, the force behind tequila bar and Mexican eatery Loco, picks her favourite versions of the Latin American Nectar.
Made from the Blue Weber Agave Plant (Agave tequilana), and named after the Mexican town of Tequila, this lovely liquid has legions of devotees. If you’re ready to jump on the bandwagon, a great place to start your journey is Braamfontein’s hip Mexican eatery and tequila bar, LOCO, which offers an array of the distilled beverage.
LOCO’s creative force, Yakira Kellman, is a passionate fan of the drink. “At LOCO, we are trying to change the narrative,” she explains. “We want people to enjoy all the complex flavours of tequila and appreciate the artistry behind each brand, while taking a seat and stopping for a moment.” So whether you like yours straight, on ice or in a cocktail, here are Yakira’s top tequila picks.
Mijenta is the first B Corp-certified tequila in the world, meaning it’s produced to the highest standards of accountability and transparency with regards to several factors, from employee benefits and charitable giving to supply chain practices. The brand is made with purpose and focused on community, which is what Yakira hopes to achieve at LOCO with the Braamfontein community and beyond. “The stylish packaging is ecofriendly, so in addition to looking great, it does no harm,” she says. “Plus it tastes really good, with complex notes of honey and cinnamon. Blanco, which is also referred to as silver, is a tequila that can be aged up to two months in steel tanks (or it can be bottled straight after distillation). Mijenta Blanco pairs perfectly with a light meal such as fish tacos.” R1 199 | yuppiechef.com
Los Locos is a South African-owned tequila brand, made in Mexico. “If you’re looking
to ‘acquire the taste’ and are just starting your tequila exploration, this one can be sipped, blended or shot,” says Yakira. “For the tequila newbies, reposados are tequilas that are aged anywhere between two and 12 months in oak barrels – this contributes to their golden hue. Los Locos is made from the highest quality hand-picked agave, and rested in American white oak barrels, which gives it its delicious hints of vanilla and herbs. It’s one of LOCO’s favourites, and so popular with our patrons that we’ve added it to our happy-hour menu, so that everyone can share in the love and get the fiesta started.” R599 | ngf.co.za
Solento Organic Reposado
Solento’s Spanish translation is “slow sun”, and the mantra behind the brand is to slow down – because good things, including good tequila, take time. “You have to love that sentiment, as you rush through this crazy, fast-paced world,” says Yakira. “This award-winning, small-batch organic tequila, presented in an elegant glass bottle, is aged in American oak barrels for nine months. With its slightly sweet hints of caramel and citrus, we recommend having it on ice, paired with full-bodied flavours of grilled spicy corn or a veggie burrito bowl.” R1 699 | ngf.co.za
Vago Espadin Mezcal
Looking for a drink with a little more punch? Vago Espadin Mezcal will hit all the right spots. “Mezcal is any agave-based spirit, and while tequila must be made in specific regions of Mexico and from only blue agave, mezcal can be made from a wider variety of the plant. It’s typically grown and made in Oaxaca, Mexico,” says Yakira. “In addition to its delicious and unique flavour, Vago Espadin is a favourite for its authenticity, small-batch production and transparency. Each Vago bottle features the name of the mezcalero, or distiller, who makes it, with Vago Espadin being made by Emigdio Jarquin Ramirez. The beautiful all-natural labelling is made by hand and produced using 100%-recycled agave fibres. Mezcal has a complex, smoky flavour profile, and it’s great for sipping, or mixed in a LOCO margarita, and paired with some spicy salsa and guacamole.” R1 345 | spiritssouthafrica.co.za
Clase Azul Reposado
“This is the premium tequila we’re all familiar with, in the iconic white-and-blue hand-painted porcelain bottle,” says Yakira. “Created by Mexican artisans in their own workshop, it not only makes for
a delicious drink, but is also a great table centrepiece. The smooth blend rolls off the tongue, so no salt or lime is needed. With an aroma of vanilla and candied orange, and flavours of hazelnut, cloves and cinnamon, it’s a sipping drink, straight or over ice. Clase Azul goes with just about any food – but for something a bit different, pair the medium-bodied tequila with a sweat treat, like churros and dulce de leche.” R3 464 | sollykramersparkhurst.co.za